Kitchen Refresh – A Little Elbow Grease for My Dream White Kitchen

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a white kitchen. As cliche as it is, I love anything light and bright! Our home was built in 2000 (or somewhere around there) and from what I can tell, it still has the original kitchen. There was nothing wrong with it. The flow is great, there are lots of cabinets, it is just… brown. I don’t have anything against a natural wood kitchen. Our hardwoods run into the kitchen, so we had one giant brown room. Plus, if I am just being honest, it isn’t my style. We get a lot of light in our house, but it still seemed dark in here! Being a stay at home mom, I spend 90% of my day in the kitchen. To pay someone to refinish the cabinets would have been expensive. And while we are in the process of updating our home, it wasn’t in the cards for last summer. I am not one to sit back and wait, so…. I did it. I refinished the cabinets myself. So before I show you the finished product, here are a few before pictures for context!


I was able to find these pictures from the original listing of our home of the kitchen in all if its woodgrain glory (because you know me by now and I forget to take decent before pictures):

(Previous owner/renter’s furniture)

So see what I mean? Lots of brown. Wood. Boring. Great layout, lots of space. But lots of room for improvement! So I did what I’ll call phase one of the kitchen renovation. While we have no plans of doing a new kitchen in this house, there are other things I have planned for it to make it even more special! Alright then… who is ready for some after pictures?!


And here is a before and after because it is just that good!

Let’s Talk About It

So, let’s talk about it for a minute. Or I will wait until you pick your jaw up off the floor… dramatic transformation, right?! So if you’ve followed along on my instagram, you know I refinished the cabinets back in July. Or maybe it was August. Either way, it was a very long time ago! I knew I wanted to do it correctly from the start, so it took an incredible amount of time. And I wanted to live in it for a while to give you a good review of how we liked it and how they wore. And also because sometimes these things take forever to plan ahead… But I digress.

Finishing the cabinets was a huge undertaking. Basically it was the only thing I did for three solid weeks. Thank you, warm weather and outside play for the kids!

Here are a few tutorials that I used. I read a million, but these methods were closest to what I did:

Young House Love 

Home Talk

If I were to go back in time, I would rent a paint sprayer. And use my power sander. For some reason I forgot they existed and I hand sanded each cabinet, front and back and between layers, AND I OWN A POWER SANDER. I’ll blame it on the mom brain thing… If I had used both those machines, this whole project would have been so much faster! Take my advice and don’t do it by hand. The finish will be nicer and it will take way less time.

Am I happy I did it? You bet!  I haven’t regretted it one bit. Even Marcus is glad I did it. While he doesn’t always understand my ideas and projects, he understood this one 100% after it was done. So, thank you honey for trusting me and letting me do crazy things!

Cost & Materials

The total cost for the project was around $200. That includes a gallon of primer, two gallons of paint, and about a half gallon for the island. Such a big impact and hardly any cost compared to installing a new kitchen!

Here’s what I used for the project. Don’t skimp on materials! You’ll save your hands and time. Promise.


Mini Roller

Foam Roller

Paint tray

Handy Paint Cup (oh my goodness buy these!!)

Paint Key

Behr Alkyd Enamel Paint (Link is for semi-gloss, I got Swiss Coffee in satin)

Zinsser Oil Based Primer 

Hand Sander 

Sanding Paper

I also changed out the knobs on the drawers for pulls. I feel like it is more substantial and looks nicer on a drawer!

So how has it worn? Well. I am not a professional, and neither was the process refinishing. And I have three kids four and under. The kitchen takes a beating! Little nicks are easy to touch up with some paint and a little brush. It is quick and worth it to me! How well does a white kitchen stay clean? I would say that white cabinets are no dirtier than any other color, you can just see the mess/dirt a little more. I don’t even mind it because I would rather clean something than have dirt hide! (I’m looking at you, carpet!).

Also, as a side note, I will admit that decor-wise, it is super pared down right now. But that is also the time of year, post Christmas decoration overload, and post January get-all-the-things-out-of-the-house.

Future Plans:

If you are interested, here are my future plans for my glorious and beautiful white kitchen:

Paint walls

Install new backsplash

Remove cabinets to the left of the sink and add open shelving

Remove cabinets to the right of the refrigerator and add open shelving

Add pendant lights above island

Replace pendant above sink & over eat-in table

Replace blinds with fun pattern?

Built cabinets up to the ceiling

New appliances

(and ultimately) Refinish floors

Add chunkier baseboard & crown molding

A girl can dream, right?

Outfit details here:

Also, if you were wondering if I feelcomfortable in front of the camera and rationalize by being awkward and doing weird things, here’s your confirmation:

Do you have any questions about refinishing your cabinets? Any reservations? Please ask below! I would love to help you out and give you the confidence you need to do it.

Also a special thank you to Ashleigh of Ashleigh Laureen Photography for these amazing pictures! Check out her site and say hi (tell her I sent you!). She is beyond talented! She is also so nice and super sweet. We chatted for nearly 45 minutes before we even got to shooting!

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Monochromatic Boys Room

One of the first projects we did when we moved in four months ago  (how has it been four months already?!) was paint and decorate the kids’ rooms. They had been in a state of flux between selling our home (9 months) and living at my parents’ home (4 months). We wanted them to get settled as quickly as possible to help them feel stable. So while they aren’t “complete,” we made significant progress right away. There are quite a few things we still want to add/change, but here’s our progress so far!

When I asked Levi how he wanted to decorate his room, his response was orange. (And if you know him, that’s usually his response for everything. He’s obsessed!). I couldn’t stomach a bright bedroom, so we compromised with a monochromatic room and will add pops of orange. I just haven’t gotten that far yet…

Naked baby photo bomb! 


Headboard  (Jordan’s Furniture, similar here for only $88!) 

Nightstand  (only $46!)



Lamp (no longer available, similar here)


Wall Decals



Camera Cord Holders (So cheap! So worth it!)

Storage Cube (similar here)

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Basic Master Bedroom

So in full defense of my master bedroom, it isn’t done. Phew, glad that is out of the way!
In all seriousness, we have never prioritized decorating our bedroom. Our last home’s master was quite teeny, but we shoved this behemoth bed into it anyway (the majority of the time we lived in our last home I was pregnant, so naturally we needed the extra bed space #babybody). I am so happy to finally have a bedroom that will fit our bed! The nightstands were our anniversary gift to each other for our third anniversary (maybe? I can’t keep track anymore!). And that is pretty much it! We have lots of room to grow into this room so I am excited to start decorating! Now if only I could figure out my direction…

This room has a lot of potential; huge windows and plenty of space. It just needs a bit of…freshening. The house was pretty recently repainted, but the previous owners were reeeeally into tan. Not that there is anything wrong with tan, this particular shade is more on the green side and pretty dark. When the sun is down it is straight up olive green. So, needless to say, paint is high on my priority list! If only I could settle on a color. Suggestions are welcomed!

The carpet is also original (circa 2000) and has to go. It is white and really has seen better days. The carpet was professionally cleaned prior to us purchasing the home, and the edges are permanently stained and black. Our cat also decided to christen our move by throwing up all throughout our bedroom which has us heavily leaning in the direction of replacing the floors. The combination of it all won’t be touched by my carpet cleaner. Who would choose a white carpet anyway? Oh well, it has seen better days!

Here are some ideas floating in my head/Pinterest.  I am still not sure of my vision. Sometimes it helps just to get started and be inspired from there! That may be my method with this room 😉

(Yes, I know the wall colors are all kind of crazy in each picture. They aren’t cooperative.)

If you follow me on instagram, I’ve mentioned how this “sitting room” will eventually become our closet. If you look at the current closet situation above, you’ll notice how awkward they are. Well, you probably can’t tell in a picture, but behind the row of clothes is the house’s eaves, so you have to crawl under the row of clothes to access more storage. First world problems, I know. We decided that instead of having wasted space next to our master, we would walk that in and make a nice walk in closet. Crossing our fingers we can do it this year! I’ll go into more details another time, but it is a project I am super excited about! 

Toy (thanks Levi) as a reminder that I have children and taking clean house pictures is near impossible. I love them 😆
So pretty much a blank slate, which I am really excited about. And slightly overwhelmed. I can’t wait to see it come along! Any suggestions are welcome!

Bedframe (DIY plan from here, knockoff from Pottery Barn
Duvet Cover 
Lumbar Pillows (old, similar here
Circle Throw Pillow (old, similar here
Nightstands (shelf  & cabinet)
Lamps (similar)
Mirror (similar

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It happened! We finally bought our new home.

Thank you for your patience while we get unpacked and settled into our new place. We are so thrilled where we are and couldn’t be happier. We took a much needed break to relax and enjoy our new space. It isn’t finished by any means, but I don’t have any more boxes to unpack. (That’s a victory in itself!)Pictures still need to go on the walls and nearly every wall needs to be painted, but we have time for that, right?

I mentioned how this home was an answer to prayer, and I guess now is as good a time as any to explain what exactly happened. This was a long process for us. We originally decided back in July 2015 that we would need to prepare for our next home. We decided that once we paid off all our debt and saved enough money for a down payment, we would list our current home in Connecticut. So fast forward to April 2016, all of the above were completed. We prepped our house for sale, got it listed, and waited. And waited. And waited.

Hundred of showings. Dozens of open houses. One lowball offer. And so our house stayed on the market for what seemed like a lifetime. Not to mention, we had our third baby at the end of May, so our life was a little crazy. Now that I look back on this past year, I don’t know how we did it. Our life was so up in the air, with a newborn, and it was hard to plan anything. We knew God had a plan and were completely content in that. However, how long would this be? How long would we need to wait?

The interesting thing about moving is we originally weren’t planning on relocating to New Hampshire. My husband got a promotion this past August, but was offered it back in March. The timing worked out well (and completely divine) because we knew that when we listed our home, we would no longer buy in Connecticut but relocate. Connecticut had been so good for our family (friends and church), but we were looking for a place closer to family, a little slower pace, better cost of living, and better schools. I grew up in Southern NH, so we knew it was a good move for our family. Plus it would be closer to my husband’s corporate office and more central to all the branches in his company and close to airports. 

So back to the waiting. We listed our home on April 15 and didn’t get under contract until December 5. It was long. It was painful. But we grew. We knew God had us staying where we were for some reason. But even though we knew that, it was still hard to be joyful through the entire process. I wish I could say we were happy and content through it all, but I would be lying. But ultimately we were confident in Him and are thrilled where we ended up! 

We put an offer on a home at the end of December, but it didn’t go through. What at first was very discouraging at a time where nothing was going to plan, it turned out that  And was another God thing too. We wouldn’t be where we are now if we bought that place. We ended up closing on our home in Connecticut on January 21, and the entire earth heard a sigh of relief. Our family packed up and moved into my parent’s house in New Hampshire.

I am so thankful we had a familiar landing pad, because our poor kids had been in a state of limbo for so long. Even though as parents we put on a brave face, kids can read through that. The first couple weeks were tough for Levi (age 2), but it was an awesome transition in general. Even considering the whole dynamic- my dad and husband work together, from home, and my mom works from home. We have three kids under four, so that brings a certain level of noise… I am so thankful my parents graciously opened their home to us and all of the activity that comes with us! We had such a wonderful few months with them. In Connecticut we were 2.5 hours away, so there’s only so many weekend trips you can do. This was such a great time to spend with the grandparents, making memories and enjoying time together.

We waited (im)patiently while living at my parent’s for homes to come on the market. The unfortunate part about moving in January is that there isn’t much to choose from. But then finally, FINALLY, on March 28 (my birthday! Best present ever!) we went under contract with our new home. And then time FLEW. Before we knew it we were closed, e packing up the truck and moving in, rain and all. We were so desperate to put down our roots again!

It was a year. We listed our last home on April 15, and closed on the new one on April 21. One year of waiting. One year of limbo. A year of lessons and stretching. But we are even more grateful now than if we didn’t have to wait! 

Shout out to my amazing husband who has been my rock and strength through it all. He’s done more unpacking, organizing, cleaning, and building than I have, on top of his full time (plus!) job and traveling. I am so thankful for him.

So please forgive me as we find our new normal. As the house comes together I am slowly finding my motivation to blog again. If you want to see more details of our day, go check us out on Instagram and my Instastories. I am also so excited to add in another passion of mineto the blog- interior design- now that we have a home again! Stay tuned for updates on our place and what we’ve done so far, including our current project of finishing the basement!